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Off the Top Rope: NJPW New Year, ‘Raw’ viewer decline, Scott Steiner-NWA

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(© Destina – stock.adobe.com)

Let’s start in New Japan

Tetsuya Naito emerged from the busy weekend in NJPW as the IWGP double champ, and has a new challenger, KENTA.

First thing here: you have to feel bad for Kota Ibushi, who won the G1 Climax back in the summer to earn the main event at Tokyo Dome for Jan. 4, only to lose that one, and then lose the #1 contender match the next night to Jay White.

From G1 to 0-2. Yikes.

And then you feel bad for White, at least initially. Guy won the #1 contender match, but he’s pushed to the side for KENTA, who dropped the NEVER Openweight title to Hirooki Goto earlier in the night on the Jan. 5 show.

Thinking about the way New Japan does things, though, I think it’s actually good for White that he’s not the first challenger for Naito, because Naito isn’t going to drop the strap to his first challenger, though it’s not likely, either, that he’ll eventually end up yielding to White.

The way this one might play out, to me: Naito-White for Dominion, Naito retains, and then Okada wins the G1 in October to set up the rematch for Tokyo Dome in 2021.

Should be a fun year in New Japan.

‘Raw’ viewer numbers decline

The news from ‘Raw’ last week had the show with a big bump in viewers after a big drop for the pre-taped Christmas week episode.

The fallout from the dumb Bobby Lashley-Lana wedding segment apparently wasn’t good.

Viewers were down 2.2 percent from the Dec. 30 show, averaging 2.385 million viewers for the Monday, Jan. 6 episode.

Significantly, the drop from the first hour (2.550 million) to the third hour (2.195 million) was more than 350,000.

That’s losing 14.1 percent of your audience over the course of the show.

People typically don’t tune out when they like what they’re seeing.

Big Poppa Pump

Scott Steiner made a brief cameo appearance at the end of this week’s “NWA Powerrr.”

Steiner was introduced as part of the brewing feud between NWA champ Nick Aldis and Ricky Morton of the Rock ‘n Roll Express.

It’s like it’s 1986 again.

Story by Chris Graham


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